Hoop Flow with Alexandria Jasienowski

"Hi there! I am Alexandria Jasienowski. I’m a 24 year old native New Yorker, Black, Queer creative. I pour myself into various art forms as a form of self expression and self-care & love. Movement, poetry, and storytelling are a few of the ways I like to create for myself and the world. Many of the ideas I interact with are based on personal growth and the tracking of my mental health through language and visual stimulation. Dealing with the concepts of depression, the White Supremacist Military state of the USA, and sexual trauma, and the attempt to find the beauty within it all. I use instagram (@ajazz22) as an accessible tool to share this active way I am attempting to heal collectively through communicating fully and honestly the way I am feeling.

Self-care is necessary for the well being of the physical, the mental, and the emotional. I didn’t always know this. I had to go through moments of forgetting how to make time for self care to learn that it was a crucial influencer in my internal happiness. As a person who is struggling with a lot of internal trauma and depression, self care became a necessary part of my survival. Hooping gives me a space to put down my screens and take intentional time to focus on my body, my breathing, and my mental clarity.

When I was 19, I went to school out in Southern California in this town called Claremont. I grew into a lot of language about my Blackness and my Queerness during my time at Pitzer College. Over the four years, I met a lot of people who were willing to actively create a space of safety, comfort, and love. Every Friday, there was this party called The Wash where I would see these beautiful Black and Brown femmes interacting with their bodies through hoop flow. The way they were claiming their bodies and their sensuality made me want that too. As a survivor of rape and colonial trauma, there were a lot of special things about this moment of wanting this for myself that I didn’t realize until reflections much later. This want was pushed by my spiraling mental health and the need to feel human in a world where I had felt constantly dehumanized. And it’s amazing how effective hooping is in connecting and grounding myself within my body when my mental seems to be trying to fly away. I often feel the need to express my humanhood within these systems.

I try to hoop at least a few times a week. Depending on where my mental health is, I’ve noticed that I will often push that alone time with myself and my body off when I am feeling particularly low. I like to have a sense of open space when I hoop so I like to go to parks, tennis courts, fields, large unused alleyways and driveways. On colder days, I either brave the cold and prepare with proper clothing or I hoop inside! Indoors is just as fine, just a different kind of flow.

Flow is when I can feel myself heating up from within. It is the point where I feel I reach meditation and a sense of peace and calm within my spirit, mind, and body. I am typically very aware in this moment in time within myself. Like a release, it is some of the only moments I can think of where I can give myself freedom.

Hooping completely evolved the way I think about myself and my body. I didn’t think I liked to dance until about four years ago. I had never imagined that this hobby would bring out parts of me that I didn’t even know were present. Hooping has given me the platform to connect to my sensuality, my confidence in reclaiming the spaces around me, and the depths of emotional trauma and expression that I need to work out. I am so grateful to this journey to have found a way to ease my depressive and destructive thoughts and actions into an active form of self-care. I feel better about my body, I feel sexy, I feel empowered within my Black Femme magic within or outside of the hoop.

I used to lie a lot. When I was younger, I was holding in a lot of shame about my Blackness, my Queerness and my family (due to us being Working Class) and intentionally or subconsciously hid behind these lies. It was compulsive at a point, because I had started doing it from such a young age, it was hard to shake off until my adolescent years. I remember a highschool teacher once said to my class senior year that each person was born with a pile of bullshit. But that this pile was of a limited amount, and that we will run out of it at some point. And that when we do, we would need to learn how to not lean on bullshit anymore and work towards honesty. It was so funny when he said that because I thought to myself, “did he just put a curse on me?” because I knew that I was not being honest with myself, let alone the people around me and that needed to change.

I have been practicing honesty within my depression, and it has been most helpful to my growth within this process of acceptance of my mental health. Honesty and the commitment to maintain honest interactions and relationships has been one of the largest ways I have grown in the past four years. I find that when I am not being honest completely with those around me then it reflects that I am not being completely open and honest with myself. It can be terrifying sometimes to share so much of myself, especially since I use my instagram as a live record/journal of my feelings through the ups and downs. But the fact that I have now been able to connect with many people who feel familiarity and home within my words and feelings gives me a large sense of solidarity and community. Which is so important for the person who can often feel alone in a room full of people due to depression. And that this connection has happened all because of the practice of being honest and a will to be vulnerable."

– as told to Gooey Girl

See the Gooey Girl Instagram for videos of Alex hooping to go along with this post!